When Desert Solitaire was first published in 1968, it became the focus of a nationwide cult. Rude and sensitive. Thought-provoking and mystical. Angry and loving. Both Abbey and this book are all of these and more. Here, the legendary author of The Monkey Wrench Gang, Abbey's Road and many other critically acclaimed books vividly captures the essence of his life during three seasons as a park ranger in southeastern Utah. This is a rare view of a quest to experience nature in its purest form -- the silence, the struggle, the overwhelming beauty. But this is also the gripping, anguished cry of a man of character who challenges the growing exploitation of the wilderness by oil and mining interests, as well as by the tourist industry.
Abbey's observations and challenges remain as relevant now as the day he wrote them. Today, Desert Solitaire asks if any of our incalculable natural treasures can be saved before the bulldozers strike again.
©1968 Edward Abbey (P)2011 Tantor
"Like a ride on a bucking bronco . . . rough, tough, combative. The author is a rebel and an eloquent loner. His is a passionately felt, deeply poetic book . . . set down in a lean, racing prose, in a close-knit style of power and beauty." (The New York Times Book Review)
I love this book - one of my true favorites - have read the actual book several times before downloading the audio version. I'm also a big fan of Edward Abbey - both his non-fiction and fiction work.
Unfortunately, Michael Kramer was a poor choice of narrator to capture the real sense of Abbey's prose. I've listened to many of Kramer's narrations of mystery and suspense novels, and he's fine for those. But, unfortunately, all wrong for Desert Solitaire.
I was disappointed, too, by Kramer's frequent mispronunciations, especially place names, throughout the narrative. Many of the local place names are tricky, I admit, but either the narrator and/or audio editor need to do their research!
Despite the unfortunate narration, I highly recommend Desert Solitaire. Better the book than this audio version, but better the audio version than not at all.
This is Edward Abbey's best book, a chronicle of his work as a park ranger and a love song to the American Desert. Alternately serious and funny, lyrical and preachy, the book is a loosely structured set of stories linked by place, so that the desert becomes a character of its own -- changeable, unforgiving, beautiful.
Michael Kramer is excellent, clear, nuanced, and well-paced. You get the feeling that you are hearing the author, himself, describing one of his adventures, or repeating a story he has heard.
A beautiful book, memories slightly tinged with regret, like stories told late at night in a bar, long after the jukebox is quiet.
I never heard Abbey talk but Kramer's reading matched the desert so well and matched the emotions of the book so perfectly l am almost afraid to find out what Abbey sounded like for fear of disappointment. Abbey brought the desert alive to me. The descriptions are so visual that I have to forgive the occasional sojourns into railing against society's ills.
I retired to the west and live within several hours of Moab, I have been there several times on my Harley and never have I been disappointed. And Abbey's masterpiece will let you feel like you too are there but better yet, you are there before all the tourist like me found the place. Sit back and enjoy the west thru Abbey's eyes.
car culture downside
The trip down Glen Canyon before it was dammed.
This book will probably appeal more to older people who can remember places and times in their lives that have decidedly changed for the worse. Ed Abbey paints a picture of the old American West before some of the best parts of it were paved over or dammed up. Civilization is not always progress, "developing" land and making it accessible to people who can only travel by automobile is sometimes a grave mistake.
I will disagree with dissenters of Narration, I loved it. I think His narration style was matched very well with Abbey's Character. We were driving in Utah's lonely desert roads, from Arches NP to Cathedral Valley and Edward Abbey's personal presence kept us great company.....
What a story for lovers of Colorado Plateau; an incredible life described eloquently.
They are two different media, thus they would be different.
Must "read" for any desert rat or lover of the southwest.
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